In a recent interview, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI paid tribute to his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II:
[The idea] that John Paul II was a saint came to me from time to time, in the years of my collaboration with him, ever clearer. Naturally, one must first of all keep in mind his intense relationship with God, his being immersed in communion with the Lord, of which he hardly spoke. From here came his happiness in the midst of the great labors he had to sustain, and the courage with which he fulfilled his task at a truly difficult time.
John Paul II did not ask for applause, nor did he ever look around, concerned about how his decisions were received. He acted from his faith and his convictions and he was ready also to suffer the blows.
The courage of the truth is in my [judgment] the criterion of the first order of sanctity.
Only from his relation with God is it possible to understand his indefatigable pastoral commitment. He gave himself with a radicalism which cannot be explained otherwise.
His commitment was tireless, and not only in the great trips, whose programs were dense with appointments from beginning to end, but also day after day, beginning with the morning Mass until late at night. During his first visit to Germany (1980), for the first time I had a very concrete experience of this enormous commitment. So during his stay in Munich, I decided he should take a longer break at midday. During that interval he called me to his room. I found him reciting the Breviary and I said to him: “Holy Father, you should rest”, and he said: “I can do so in Heaven.”
Only one who is profoundly filled with the urgency of his mission can act like this.
Pope Benedict’s words give us one more reason to be grateful for the upcoming canonization of the late Holy Father.
Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!